The Law and the Internet. Initial Thoughts.

The law and the internet aren’t exactly the best of friends, only recently the internet’s creator, Tim Bernes Lee, has called for an internet Bill of Rights to protect all those who use the internet and give people set rights for the online world. Now I am not arguing for the internet to be some completely free ‘do what you want’ social zone, internet fraud, botnets, hacking ect all need to be controlled but the internet is a public domain and it is just that, public. The internet is in a way what you make of it, you can become famous on twitter, build a business from nothing, get discovered via youtube, the internet holds no bounds but it has to hold no bounds within limits, like society.

Becoming rich via the internet because you stole credit card details or hacked a bank account wouldn’t be acceptable offline so it isn’t acceptable online but the people that partake in such crimes is tiny and placing restrictions on what sites can be viewed and what content can be portrayed harms everyone not just the culprits. We don’t place a whole town in jail because one of the population killed their neighbour.

Spying on what people view online, send online, receive online, and put online is an invasion of privacy. Hacking phones is an invasion of privacy, ask the News of the World, they know all about it, so accessing someone’s personal computer to see what they are doing online has to fall under the same area of law. Now I know that governments like to use the “national security” argument, well do we get to see what the government is doing behind our backs because they seem to be the biggest threat to national security, how often do we hear after a bombing or murder that the police knew about the culprit(s) but just didn’t act. Why don’t they get out an arrest them before they blow up another bus instead of watching me watch more funny cat videos on youtube.

The thing about the internet is that when it is used for good reasons it is extremely powerful, look at the way we have postponed internet bills from being passed or exposed hidden extensions of power that are in the small print of a bill, the government don’t like this but what are they going to do? ‘This call to arms is a welcome one. The threats to the web’s future are myriad and varied. Last year, former National Security Contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. and British governments conduct internet surveillance at a massive scale. This year, a U.S. court struck down the Federal Communication Commission’s network neutrality rules. In China, the government still seeks to control internet access with its Great Firewall. And in places like Egypt, we’ve seen governments shut down the internet on occasions in an effort to prevent activists from spreading information and organizing protests.'[1] Governments around the world have tried to gain control of the internet but just as piracy has shown, even if you aren’t a fan, you can’t really control the internet as such, you block a site and a new one just pops up to replace it or people find a way around the block, internet service providers didn’t really want to comply, they complied because they had to by law but if someone regularly gets around their proxy they wont act on it. Governments are helpless in this situation, the internet can’t be controlled, it can be policed by people like Microsoft who recently shut down the biggest botnet in the world, or at least started to with Kasperskey labs but more botsnets will spring up, they aren’t fixing the problem, they have just dealt with another problem, these are not the same thing. Where as laws for the physical world do deter crime, to some extent, in the online world you don’t have to reveal anything about yourself, you can create a completely new life from nothing! look at the program catfish! The online and offline worlds are two different beasts and trying to control both in the same way wont work, you need two different approaches. I don’t know what these are, I wouldn’t know where to begin, I know what needs to be stopped but saying that is the easy bit, the actual carrying out of this is the hard bit but this Internet Bill of Rights would be a good place to start, knowing your rights and what you are entitled to is always a good place to start.

[1] http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2014/03/web25/

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